The progestogen-only pill (POP) contains a progestogen hormone which is like the natural progesterone women produce in their ovaries. POP do not contain estrogen like the Combined Oral Contraceptive Pill (COC)POPs contain different types of progestogens. (POPs containing desogestrel will be named specifically where relevant on this page). If you are not sure what type of progestogen is in your POP, check the patient information leaflet inside your pack or ask your doctor or nurse.
Please explore the following sections for more information:
If 100 sexually active women don’t use any contraception, 80 to 90 will become pregnant in a year. If taken according to instructions the POP is over 99 per cent effective. This means that less than one woman in 100 will get pregnant in a year.
If the POP is not taken according to instructions, more women will become pregnant.
POP need to be taken every day, even during times of vaginal bleeding (with no breaks).
POP need to be taken at a regular time of day either within a 12 hour time frame (window period) and some older type POP within a three hour time frame (e.g. if you take your older type POP at 8am every day, you would need to take it no later than 11am every day) Missed a pill?
HOW IT WORKS
The POP works by thickening the mucus from your cervix. This makes it difficult for sperm to move through it and reach an egg.
The newer type POP (containing the hormones desogestrel) sometimes stops your ovaries releasing an egg (ovulation).
- POP can be taken by most women
- Can be used whilst breastfeeding
- Can be used if contraception containing oestrogens, like those found in the combined pill (COC), contraceptive patch or contraceptive vaginal ring are contraindicated
- Can be used at any age, weight and if you
- It may help with premenstrual symptoms and painful periods
There are no serious side effects with the POP however;
- Periods may become irregular, light, or more frequent or may stop altogether. This is normal and may settle down it is not harmful but you may find it annoying.
- The POP does not protect you against sexually transmitted infections, so you may need to use condoms as well.
- You have to remember to take the pill at the same time every day.
- Temporary side effects may last a few months and include spotty skin, breast tenderness, weight change and headaches.
Some women may develop small fluid-filled cysts on their ovaries. These cysts usually disappear without treatment.